Point: Was the United States Right to Withdraw Troops from Afghanistan?

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Ian Laurence, Contributing Writer

20 years ago, a horrific act of terror was launched on the World Trade Center in New York.  The United States soon sought out Al-Qaeda, the terrorist group responsible for the 9/11 attack.  Under the George W. Bush Administration, American troops were sent into Afghanistan in an attempt to respond to this attack and minimize the chances of future acts of terror.  

This, though, fails to answer the question: why were United States troops still in Afghanistan almost 20 years later?  The leader of Al-Qaeda, Osama Bin Laden, was assassinated by the U.S. almost a decade ago.  The main goal in Afghanistan was already achieved.  American troops only further occupied Afghanistan to prevent the threat of the Taliban, an influential group that has been slowly taking over parts of Afghanistan, from launching a full takeover.  However, this proved to be ineffective as the Taliban is currently occupying a large portion of Afghanistan.  Thus, under the Trump Administration, deals were made with the Taliban, and a withdrawal from Afghanistan was planned to happen before May 31, 2021.  Although this did not end up happening, troops began to withdraw on May 31 and finished withdrawing on Sept. 11, 2021 under the Biden Administration. 

Although the full scope of the aftermath of this withdrawal is still yet to be seen, it has garnered support from many American people.  Many believe that if the United States did not withdraw from Afghanistan, the war would have gone on indefinitely.  

“The United States was definitely right to pull troops out of Afghanistan.  Prolonging the war there would do nothing,” said sophomore Austin Hyde. 

 In the eyes of most, the pros outweigh the cons.  The withdrawal ends a 20-year conflict in Afghanistan that should have been ended a decade ago.  The cost of the possibility of Afghanistan falling into chaos under Taliban control is a small one to pay to end this two-decade long war. 

Not only do some many Americans believe that withdrawing now was the right move, some believe that we should have withdrawn earlier.  Our goal was achieved when Osama Bin Laden was assassinated.  The further occupation of Afghanistan was a waste of American lives and resources.  

“The United States should have withdrawn troops from Afghanistan because they had already killed Osama Bin Laden.  Furthermore, the United States occupation is not very effective at preventing the takeover of Afghanistan,” said sophomore Tyler Huang.  

Our war in Afghanistan was won in 2011. Not only did the United States do the right thing by withdrawing our troops, we should have done it sooner. 

Despite the multitude of advantages that arise from this withdrawal, there are Americans who are still skeptical of whether it was the right choice.  Some believe that the United States stopping its occupation of Afghanistan and the takeover of the Taliban might lead to Afghanistan resurging as a terrorist base of operations.  

“The United States withdrawal from Afghanistan was not the right move as a Taliban takeover may prove to be dangerous,” said junior Nicolas Garcia.  

Despite the possibility of Taliban occupation of Afghanistan becoming dangerous, the cost of fighting a war for 10 years after it has been won is too high.  While there are cons to the withdrawal of troops, overall, it was the right decision. 

“We went to Afghanistan because of a horrific attack that happened 20 years ago.  That cannot explain why we should remain there in 2021.  Rather than return to war with the Taliban, we have to focus on the challenges that will determine our standing and reach today and into the years to come,” said President Biden.  

As a country, it is more important for us to focus our efforts on more important matters rather than continuing to fight a war that was won over a decade ago.  Thus, withdrawing our troops from Afghanistan was the right move.